Room Service by Robot and Other Ways Tech Is Changing the Hotel Stay

Xconomy National — 

More days than not, Michael Colaneri’s home is a hotel room. So innovations like “geolocation” sensors that automatically unlock his room door and adjust the thermostat when he’s nearby make the constant change easier—sometimes.

“My experience has been exceptionally inconsistent,” he says. “When it’s worked, it’s really great, cool, and so efficient to the point where they’ve spoiled me rotten. … When it doesn’t work, it does more damage than not having it at all.”

Colaneri has a particularly insider view of how digital technology is disrupting the previously analog hotel room. He’s the vice president for retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods at AT&T. The hotels he stays in are oftentimes his customers. “I work with all the major flags [big chains], and the term that’s used is ‘frictionless experience for the customer,’” he says. “The consumer’s proficiency using and expectations for technology has grown at an enormous rate.”

Of course, hoteliers have long used software and other technologies to help run reservations, staff scheduling, and other administrative functions. But increasingly the focus is on the guest’s room and seeking ways to anticipate wants and needs while reducing the need for human interaction.

Some of this is just a matter of hotels catching up with the times. People are increasingly living in smart(er) homes that feature digital controls of temperature and lighting settings and refrigerators that can alert us to spoiling food—not to mention Alexas and Google Homes that can respond to our voice commands—so it can be hard to adjust to hotel rooms that still feature technology a decade or more old.

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